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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

S.F. Voters Could Tax Twitter, Other Tech Companies

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 2:13 PM

  • Davide D'Amico/Flickr
Voters in November will have the chance to declare their love, or lack thereof, for the tech industry – often labeled the sole source of the death of the city’s soul.

Supervisor Eric Mar, with the support of colleague Aaron Peskin, is expected to introduce a ballot measure today at the Board of Supervisors that would, essentially, bring back a tax eliminated by the city five years ago, according to the SF Examiner.

The Fair Share – Homeless and Housing Impact Tech Tax would generate some $120 million a year by imposing a 1.5 percent tax on tech company payrolls. (Recall that the city's controversial "Twitter tax break" was an exemption on the payroll tax available to firms who relocated to Mid-Market, before the city did away with payroll taxes altogether).

And that’s where things get sticky.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Millennial Problems: A Mystery Inside an Enigma

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 1:05 PM

click image GIPHY
  • Giphy

Millennials can be a study in a lot of things, but maybe none better than contradictions. The world’s most annoying generation thinks the best places to live in the U.S. are New York City and San Francisco, yet their top priorities for their home city are a healthy economy and rent and housing prices that aren’t too damn high.

That’s according to these easy-to-browse survey results from Abodo, some apartment listings site we’d never heard of (probably because we can’t afford to ever rent another apartment in the Bay Area).

Abodo contacted 2,000 people born between 1982 and 1998 to compile these results. It offers no plus-minus on the outcome (rookie move), but the results are still oodles of fun. Especially the contradictions.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Airbnb Wants You To Fight For Airbnb-Friendly Regulations

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 11:27 AM

  • Airbnb action

We still can’t believe Kyrie Irving made that shot last night and the Warriors are the best-ever second place NBA team. But what we can believe is that Airbnb is going full-court press to stop San Francisco from making its business in the city miserable.

Famously, Airbnb's home city has proved incapable of making Airbnb follow simple rules. There are thousands of available Airbnb listings that are not complying with the city's very modest rules, requiring hosts to register with the city and putting a limit on the number of nights a valuable housing unit can be used as a tourist hotel. But with the city's Board of Supervisors taking a no-nonsense turn and preparing to fine Airbnb $1,000 a day for every scofflaw listing, Airbnb is turning for help... to its hosts. 

Using its host-led activism arm Airbnb Action — which originally launched in early June 2014 to combat New York City’s crackdown at the time on the short-term rental service — the company is clearly in attack mode following the Board of Supervisors’ unanimous decision to make it play by the rules. But so far, as TechCrunch points out, it has not gone for the jugular.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Another "Uber For Kids" Coming to S.F.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 12:43 PM

  • Screenshot/HopSkipDrive
Just months after an “Uber for kids” startup called Shuddle shuttered, another one is revving up its service in San Francisco. It could be a losing bet for a number of reasons.

HopSkipDrive sees its service working in a city notorious for having more pet dogs in households than children, and a public transit system widely used by youngsters. At first glance, it’s hard to see the difference between HopSkipDrive and Shuddle, which begs the question of why one would thrive over the other — not to mention the fact that there is another player in the game locally called Zum. But there is a key difference between the three ventures: money.

HopSkipDrive has venture capital backing. Zum does not, and Shuddle’s dried up and it could not attract more. Forbes surmised that Shuddle’s downfall might have been due to a lack of demand or lack of further interest from venture capitalists. It could also be that this kind of market is just too small.

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Millennial Problems: Zuckerberg vs. Seinfeld

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 7:00 AM

  • Screengrab
When you run the world’s most popular social media platform, it would stand to reason that you’re pretty good at communicating. Like, you understand social cues, dead space, self-deprecation, making others comfortable, yadda yadda yadda.

Only, what if that’s not the case? What if your life is ruled so much by emoticons, thumbs up, shares, and the endless roll of comments that you’ve completely forgotten how to just be?

For Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, it would appear nothing comes easy — especially when you’re trying to do everything with a broken arm and no one believes you.

The millennial and Mission District mansion-owner — who at least some of the time commutes outside the city for work, when he's not staying at his Palo Alto compound — invited old man comedian Jerry Seinfeld to Facebook headquarters Tuesday for the company’s very first live Q&A.

Mostly dull, the video is quite long at an hour. But right off the bat, we get some useful info: Zuck says he’s not one of the lizard people. (We don’t blame you if you’re still not convinced.) But after that reveal, just skip to about the 43-minute mark.

That’s when Seinfeld “arrives.”

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Facebook Workers Ditch Shuttle, Drive to Campus

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 12:54 PM

Today is a good day to drive. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Today is a good day to drive.

Are San Francisco’s notorious commuter shuttle activists driving more tech workers into cars? That probably sounds infuriating or laughable, but it could be true.

“Facebook disclosed that their car commute trips had spiked in recent months, adding about 400 more cars to San Francisco streets, due to new San Francisco rules changing shuttle stops.”

That nugget comes via the Friends of Caltrain Blog, as reported by Streetsblog SF.

Those new rules started Feb. 1 and were born out of the SFMTA’s pilot program regulating such vehicles, which one could argue was born out of people’s displeasure with the shuttles that were becoming more and more common on city streets after years of unfettered operation.

Or, perhaps slow-moving government finally caught up at the same time activists started making headlines.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What Would Airbnb-Free SF Look Like?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 1:13 PM


Airbnb is sometimes a punching bag in San Francisco, whether warranted or not. The hotel alternative platform is very popular here — and everywhere else — but not in certain circles.

For some, Airbnb is the problem, the villain, the poster child of deregulated capitalism run amok and a chief driver of the housing crisis — to the point of no return. Shit, Airbnb can't even be made to follow the rules!

Or can it? San Francisco's Board of Supervisors just voted to hold Airbnb accountable for law-breaking listings on its website — in a financial way.  

In a surprising 10-0 vote, supervisors approved fines of up to $1,000 per day for listing rentals that are not registered with the city under a weak-kneed previous legislative effort that did not really do much to regulate Airbnb and others.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

It Didn't Go Well For the Proposed Uber Settlement Yesterday

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2016 at 1:55 PM

What a deal. - FLICKR/DENNIS
  • Flickr/Dennis
  • What a deal.
It doesn't look great for the proposed $84 million settlement the lawsuit filed against ride-share giant Uber by the hundreds of thousands of its drivers, after the judge overseeing the case said Thursday the settlement gives him "serious concerns." 

In 2013, Uber drivers filed a massive class-action suit against the $62 billion company, alleging Uber was withholding tips and classifying drivers as independent contracts while treating them as employees. A few weeks ago, not long before the possibly momentous trial was to begin — the result of which could have threatened the very basis for how workers are classified in the Silicon Valley gig economy — Uber reached a settlement with the drivers' attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan.

Under the terms, Uber drivers could collect tips but will remain contractors. On top of that, drivers could not file further lawsuits challenging their employment status and certain work conditions. In return, drivers would receive a settlement check ranging from between $25 to $218 — while Liss-Riordan's firm would pocket $25 million. If Uber went public, the settlement would increase from $84 million to $100 million.

That led to a revolt, with both the lead plaintiff and hundreds of drivers asking Judge Edward Chen to reject the settlement and remove Liss-Riordan as attorney, and other attorneys, filing separate actions, guessing that the damages in the case could be worth more than $1 billion.

On Thursday, Chen subjected both Liss-Riordan and Uber attorneys to some withering scrutiny,
putting the former adversaries on the collective defensive.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Airbnb's Enormous Success is Bigger Than You Think

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 1:19 PM

But on a global scale. - FRED NOLAND
  • Fred Noland
  • But on a global scale.

In 2009, Airbnb’s second year of existence, the San Francisco-based hotel alternative facilitator boasted 3,000 listings worldwide.

This year, Airbnb offered a staggering 2.3 million housing units to rent for a day, a week, a weekday — which means its inventory grew at a faster clip than the entire hotel industry. As in all hotels, everywhere. 

In North America alone last year, Airbnb added 229,000 listings to its stock compared to the hotel industry’s 139,000 new rooms, according to a recent study by 7Park Data, a mobile app data miner, that was featured in the San Francisco Business Times.

And for good measure, consider that the world’s second largest accommodations company is now Hilton — worth 25 percent less than Airbnb, which is currently valued at $25.5 billion.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

$10K, No Way: Elite Tech Interns Encouraged To Fight For Their Worth

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2016 at 1:36 PM

  • Flickr/Tax Credits

When UC Berkeley undergraduate and self-described serial hacker Rodney Folz released the results of a survey he conducted on intern salaries at a couple dozen local technology companies last week, most of the coverage focused on the crazy numbers.

The offers are genuinely staggering: Fifteen tech firms — Twitter, Uber and Slack to name just a few — supposedly offer more generous compensation than investment bank Goldman Sachs, which itself gives college students nearly $10,000 per month for summer work.

But Folz, who said he will soon be taking a job with Yelp, did not conduct the second annual survey just to brag about the cushy pay in his chosen industry. Releasing the survey results on Twitter under the hashtag #talkpay (, Folz told SF Weekly that he hopes to encourage prospective interns to bargain for fair pay.

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